Racialized Mass Incarceration in America

Racialized Mass Incarceration in America

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In the United States, the rate of incarceration has increased shockingly over the past few years. In 2008, it was said that one in 100 U.S. adults were behind bars, meaning more than 2.3 million people. Even more surprising than this high rate is the fact that African Americans have been disproportionately incarcerated, especially low-income and lowly educated blacks. This is racialized mass incarceration. There are a few reasons why racialized mass incarceration occurs and how it negatively affects poor black communities.
Blacks are overly portrayed in jails and prisons. Bobo and Thompson stated that in 1954, 98,000 African Americans were in jail or prison. By 2002, there was an increase of 900%, 884,500 African Americans were in jail or prisons. In 2007, blacks made up 39% of detained males in prisons or jails however they make up 12% of the total adult male population. White males make up 36.1% of the male inmate population but they make up 65.6% of the total male population. These statistics demonstrate that racialized mass incarceration exists in the U.S.
There are a few reasons why African Americans are discriminated by the legal system. The primary cause is inequitable protection by the law and unequal enforcement of it. Unequal protection is when the legal system offers less protection to African Amerians that are victimized by whites. It is unequally enforcement because discriminatory treatment of African Americans that are labeled as criminal suspects is more accepted.
Another reason racialized mass incarceration takes place is because of the high rates of poverty and unemployment for inner city African Americans, especially those with low-education and low skill levels. Urban ghettos have been associated with the problem of social disorganization and crime. The biggest reason for this is the war on drugs. There is no substantial proof that verifies African Americans are more involved in illegal drug consumptions than other groups are. However they are arrested more than other groups. Bobo and Thompson stated that blacks are almost 34% involved in drug-related arrests though only 14% of those are among regular illegal drug users. Among drug related convictions, African Americans make up half of the cases whereas only 26% of the white population is convicted. As Bobo and Thompson stated, “Illegal drug consumption seems to know no race. Incarceration for drug-related charges, however, is something visited in a heavily biased manner on African Americans.”
The war on drugs is greatly concentrated on cocaine and even more so on crack cocaine.

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